California: Lunch With Side of Health -- Grape-Picking Crews Get Free Food and AIDS Information
October 17, 2005
On Thursday, the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency and Radio Campesino 90.5 FM brought lunch and AIDS prevention information to about 50 fieldworkers as part of Bi-national Health Week.
Roberto Bustos, a community education specialist on AIDS prevention and education for the county, provided female and male grape pickers information about the disease, including the location of clinics where they could seek testing. "The main thing is educating people about this disease, especially the Latinos who have a very high rate in Tulare County," said Bustos. "Hopefully they can help us by passing on this information to someone else -- a loved one."
Of the 383 people diagnosed with HIV or AIDS to date in Tulare County, 37 percent are Latino, according to Alma Torres-Nguyen, who runs the county's HIV/AIDS education program. It is believed that 124 people with AIDS and 71 with HIV are currently residing in the county. "But we don't really know the number of people living with AIDS in Tulare County because they may get diagnosed in other counties so they get counted there," explained Torres-Nguyen. "They may feel more comfortable getting diagnosed in a different location."
Other agencies joined the county in reaching out to the farmworkers. Poder Popular provided information about medical insurance, while Community Services & Employment Training assistant program directors talked to workers about services available to them and their children.
Many of the workers said they appreciated the agencies' outreach efforts. "It's very good of them," said Patricia Vargas of Terra Bella. "They bring information to us. It's a good service." Gloria Calderon, a fieldworker from Porterville, concurred and said, "Some of us [had] never heard of the services available."
10.14.05; Valerie A. Avalos